No this story was not updated. I meant to replace chapter one and accidently added a duplicate chapter. Sorry about that...To Take a Chance
Warnings: Takes place sometime in Atlantis' future. Post-death story for now. But it's not all depressing either. (There may be an expanded, full story, but not until I finish with my current big project!)
Disclaimer: I don't own Atlantis. I write for fun and make no profit.
Thanks to Kodiak who encouraged me to post this and provided a super-fast beta!
There are many things that Rodney would like to tell his grandchildren, the non-existent ones--the ones that probably never will exist given his history with women. But all improbabilities aside, just supposing he had the misfortune of dealing with little brat clones of himself and some equally unfortunate wife, he has a whole slew of things that he'd love for them to hear. First and foremost, and something he just can't emphasize enough, is that chances are worth taking.
Dust flies into the air revealing the torn top of a physics book, the one his mom bought him as a child after the piano fiasco. It is one of the few items he took with him to Antarctica, to Atlantis, to everywhere. This one book that opened his eyes to so much of the world and its inner workings is truly the beginning piece of the larger jigsaw puzzle that is his life. And yet for all of the wonders it contains, all of the wisdom and knowledge that he memorized in such a short time--for all of this--it never bothered to tell him just how much chances are integral to living.
The book flies out of his hands and lands with a thump along side all his other precious possessions on his bed. A laptop. A book. A jacket. His life.
His stomach flies as the forward wheels of his chair lift a few inches off the ground and he runs in circles on the steadiness of the back tires alone. His quarters aren't big enough for him to do anything fancy, but give him an open field and he'll ride as though he were on a Puddlejumper soaring through the stars.
He has spent so little time in this room over the last few years that he's almost forgotten what it looks like. His gaze falls on the framed photograph of him holding his PhD as though it were his only true love. The tiniest of laughs escapes his lips as he reaches upward. Was he really so foolish once upon a time? Sitting down, he's too short to grab the item off of his wall so he braces his hand on a wobbly desk, managing to push himself to his feet. His calves burn at the movement and his arm are shaking so bad he wonders how long until he falls over and injures himself once more. Carson would have his head if he saw what he was doing, but Carson doesn't understand just how important it is to take chances. Rodney didn't always, either.
The desk stops rattling when he falls back against the plastic seat, but he's forgotten to set his brake again and the damn contraption rolls back, nearly making the scientist topple over. When he finally has his bearings, he carefully pushes down on the two side brakes and once more hoists himself to his feet. Bit by bit a new piece of wall is revealed in the form of shiny white squares against a pale gray backdrop. The pictures join the rest of his world, a few crashing to the floor when his throw is just a little off. He doesn't wince at the sound of crashing glass, even as some bits fly into the air and scrape against his shin.
It is strange. When he first stepped foot on Atlantis, he thought that these so-called proofs of his intelligence showed the accumulation of just how great he was—is. But now, as he decides just what to fit in his pack, he finds himself turning each frame away to make room for something else. His gun. His life signs detector. A copy of War and Peace.
He hesitates before placing the final item with the others. John actually read the damn thing cover to cover, but Rodney has little interest in trying. But he removes his physics textbook and replaces it with this new treasure. Add to the list Teyla's necklace and Ronon's knife and there just isn't room for anything else.
His stomach quivers, if stomachs can even do such a thing, and he finds himself allowing the smallest of tears to roll against his warm cheek before he brushes all subsequent ones away. He'd like to tell his grandkids about this too, about the team that became family, about how he learned that living was so much more than being great. He doubts they'd understand fully, but maybe if they grasp just a small piece, they'd keep from making the same mistakes he had.
A soft spoken knock echoes across the room and Elizabeth has the door open before he can get there. Once upon a time she couldn't have done that, override his lock with a thought, but she knows the code and her gene works well enough now.
"Rodney?" Her voice is tentative, perhaps a little shaky, but she holds her back straight and gazes at him with the strong eyes of leadership and the caring eyes of a friend.
"Elizabeth. Come on in." He greets her with a smile, and it's not a fake one despite what people around him seem to think. It's not that he isn't grieving, hell there's a hole in his heart so large it could have been caused by Sheppard's C-4…and that bit of him isn't ever going to truly heal…but even with all that has happened, he is happy. It comes with knowing who one is and knowing that it was all worth it in the end. Chances worked that way, you took the good with the bad. And there was something to be said for it after all. No, that physics book didn't tell him everything.
"You're sure you want to do this?" Elizabeth hugs her right arm to her chest and Rodney can see she is close to tears. She's lost just as much as he has, maybe more, but she's staying and that speaks wonders to how strong she is.
"I have to." He closes his eyes, images of his friends' still bodies creeping between the happier memories of their laughs, their smiles.
She walks around the shards of glass, but doesn't say anything. The light glistens on the trails of tears running along her face. "We'll miss you."
"Yes, well, great as my company is, I'm sure you'll still get by without me. Now as to whether Radek blows you all up or not, I completely wipe my hands of it."
It takes a few shoves at the zipper before his bag finally closes. A sharp knot in his throat keeps him from swallowing. He concentrates on taking full, complete breaths. In and out. In and out. Sometimes he wonders how he can go on with all that he has lost--that he will never have again. But then he pictures Teyla's reassuring face, hears Sheppard banter, and watches Ronon shooting, and he knows that the memories will serve a lifetime, a century. That is one thing about everything having reached its climax, he doesn't have to sit and wonder what will go kaboom; it all ready has. And he is still here.
"I mean it, Rodney. I know you can't be here right now; I understand that. But, maybe, if in some months or years you decide you can handle it, there'll be a place here for you."
She's gone before he can reply and that's good, because he honestly doesn't have an answer for her. The very thought of living here right now, even though its the best home he's ever had, well, it's just too much for him. Ronon spent seven years running and now it's his turn, only it's Atlantis Rodney needs to escape--Atlantis and all that she represents. John, Teyla, Ronon, Ford... They're all here even though they're not, and he just can't be around that right now, maybe not ever.
His blue duffel adds warmth to his chubby thighs and he rolls around, glancing up and down the vacant area that used to be his. It's much bigger than he remembers and maybe the next guy to get assigned this space will use it more. Hopefully they'll pick up the glass first though.
He wonders about Ronon, Teyla, and Sheppard, guessing they're probably looking at him from some Ancient realm, or some heaven, or somewhere. In fact, Rodney realizes they're probably annoyed that he's taking his sweet time joining them. McKay was always the late one out of the group.
Heaven. It's a funny thought. There are no references to it in his physics book. If someone had asked him some years ago if he believed in anything other than pure science, Rodney would have scoffed. He's not a born-again Christian, or whatever it is those people call themselves, and he's not about to worship the Ancients as gods, but if Pegasus has taught him anything, it's that there are some things in life that you won't find in a textbook. Some things you just don't know or understand until it's time for you to do so.
Yeah, if he had grandkids to tell these stories to, he'd probably go to bed each night smiling. Reliving this life that once was his. He doesn't know why he agreed to come to Pegasus, knowing full well the dangers that might exist here. Maybe he was looking for something beyond himself, even as he believed himself to be the end all of the universe. And if he came here and slowly, bit by bit, started helping his friends, and playing piano, and just enjoying the sea breeze as it drifted onto their own alien island...well maybe that meant he was wise to take the chance.
He thinks the lights off and the room is shrouded in darkness, but he does not leave. He is taking another chance he realizes, going to his next destination and hoping for a better turn of events. Although he cannot live on Atlantis anymore, he will carry her with him and all the joy that she has brought to his heart. And maybe, just maybe, his grandkids will live to see her great beauty.